Palliative: A palliative treatment is one that alleviates symptoms associated with the illness. It improves the quality of life, but does not extend survival time or cure the illness. A familiar example is the use of painkillers, which do not treat the cancer, but do help to reduce discomfort. Another example is palliative radiation therapy, which aims at slowing tumor growth and, more importantly, decreasing pain and improving quality of life. While most oncologists do not think of conventional treatments as palliative treatments, I do, because they usually do not provide a “cure” for systemic cancer at this time. This is why I have come to think of cancer as a chronic disease to be managed, rather than a disease that can be cured.
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